I'm excited to have Marilyn Meredith as my guest. Marilyn is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Bears With Us from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is No Bells from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America.
Today she talks about authors using their own experiences, especially their fears, in writing.
Do Any of Your Fears or Experiences Show up in your Mysteries?
I’ve often wondered if mystery writers ever incorporate their own fears or experiences into the stories they write. It certainly would be a way to reach inside oneself to bring up the emotions the hero or heroine might feel when coming across the same object or situation that the author himself or herself fears.
For instance, if spiders make your skin crawl, would you have your hero or heroine be confronted by a horde of spiders? What if snakes in habit your nightmares, would you put a deadly snake in the path our protagonist must take in order to find a clue?
This gives you the idea of where I’m going. I wonder when I’m reading a chilling mystery, if some of the horror that main character must confront or overcome is one that the writer harbors.
Someone who is afraid of spiders, scorpions, lizards or snakes should never live where I do. We have lots of all these unsavory critters. I can easily dispatch the first two without a qualm, I’ve swept many a lizard out the door, and have learned to make enough noise when traipsing around outside, that a nearby rattler will sound its warning.
What am I afraid of? Frankly, the older I get the less frightened I am of most anything. I can get around in the dark pretty darn well. I’m not afraid of things that go bump in the night. I live in an old house and it makes bumping noises all the time. And no, I’m not afraid of ghosts either. My grandkids all say my house is haunted, and it may well be. Doors open and shut on their own, but who cares? Ghosts can’t hurt you—especially if you’re not afraid of them. Frankly, I love writing about ghosts and they’ve been characters in several of my books.
What I might confess to being a bit afraid of is a catastrophe like a forest fire like what has been going on around my state and others, or a major earthquake which is always a possibility in California. I am not anticipating either, but who knows? Both of these disasters do make good fodder for a mystery. We’ve had some major flooding at times where I live, and I’ve used what could happen in the Deputy Tempe book that’s due out in the fall, called Raging Water.
My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, No Bells, revolves around a loved one being accused of murder. That would be a horrible experience for anyone and fortunately not one I’ve had. In this story, it’s the woman that Officer Gordon Butler has fallen for. He’s determined to clear his name even if it means losing his job.
What about experiences?
If you’ve ever been burglarized you know the feeling of being violated even though you weren’t home when the burglar was going through your belongings.
A death in the family is always traumatic, but it does give you the insight and knowledge if what one goes through when a loved one dies. Sometimes I think writers (books and movies) don’t spend enough time showing what a tremendous effect death has on all the loved ones left behind.
I’ve barely covered the surface of our own fears and experiences that could turn up in a mystery.
How about sharing your fears? Or an experience that would make good fodder for a mystery.
The Deputy Tempe Crabtree series can be purchased from the usual places and also directly from Mundania Press at http://mundania.com/